Daniel Deniehy was one of Australia’s most colourful colonial characters.
He was an orator, a man of letters, a novelist, lawyer and politician, but he was also an early republican and advocate of democracy.
He became famous for a speech in 1853 which he derided William Charles Wentworth’s proposal for an antipodean house of lords as as a “bunyip aristocracy”.
He was elected to the NSW Legislative Assembly in 1857 and resided in Goulburn, basing himself in an office at Mandelson’s Hotel in Sloane Street. He also founded a newspaper, The Southern Cross.
But this man of energy and intellect died in 1865 at the age of 37 in a Bathurst Street house after years of alcoholism.
Each year in Goulburn, his life and contributions are celebrated by the Daniel Deniehy Oration. This year’s oration is being led by Dr Benjamin Jones.
“The final years of Daniel Deniehy’s life were undeniably tragic,” said Dr Jones, a social historian based at the Australian National University.
“Haunted by the death of his son, plagued by alcoholism, suffering depression, and crippled by ill health … the despair of Deniehy’s death contrasts to the inspiration of his life.
“Considered a ‘master of rhetoric’ by his friends, ‘a rising demagogue’ by his opponents, and a ‘brilliant’ wit by neutral observers, Deniehy was the first great native-born advocate of an Australian republic.”
One of the organisers of the event and Deniehy admirer, Dr Ursula Stephens, said it would be a great night in which Goulburn’s history and connection to the Australian Republican Movement (ARM) would be celebrated.
“David Headon and Peter Fitzsimons have spoken at it previously,” she said.
“These are people who are passionate about the republican movement. We will also have new ARM director Michael Cooney update us on where things are up to with the movement. His passion is political history and he is deeply connected to the republican movement.”
Dr Stephens this year’s event would attempt to bring Daniel Deniehy alive through reciting speeches from a play written about him by local man Julian Woods.
“We are going to read excerpts from Julian’s play called Daniel Deniehy – a Tragedy In Three Acts. I think it is fantastic that Julian has written this play,” she said.
“There might be some budding actors out there who would like the chance to read. They can contact me.”
- It is on Saturday, October 28, from 6.30pm to 10.30pm at the Goulburn Soldiers Club. More information: Dr Stephens on 0407 228 727 or search ‘Daniel Deniehy Oration’ on Eventbrite online